'Songs of the City' Makes for an Indie-Folk Love Fest

WRITTEN BY
Jeff Miller

For "Songs of the City," an indie rock heavy concert presented inpart of the L.A. Philharmonic's "Concrete Frequency" series, theenormous stage at the Walt Disney Hall last night (Jan. 8) washalf-full with the vestiges of a living room: full couches, old-schoollamps, rugs, and large, comfy chairs added to the festival's charmingtheme of life in the city. But emboldened with 13 bands and artistsranging from X's John Doe and Rogue Wave frontman Zach Rogue to GrizzlyBear's Daniel Rossen, the stage took on at least a bit of urgency; eachartist performed two songs, ostensibly about life on the road or in aspecific city, but not all held to the criteria -- though thegorgeously melodic folk-pop outfit Biirdie played theirfish-out-of-water tale "LA Is Mars," erstwhile actress Zooey Deschanel,accompanied by the always-outstanding M. Ward, went the traditional poproute with standards such as "I Put A Spell On You" and "LonesomeTown," not exactly tales of hustle and bustle.

Bob Mouldbusted out "Thumbtack," an Austin-themed tune he hadn't played in overa decade, and Belle and Sebastian's Stevie Jackson invited Biirdie backup to help with harmonies. TV On the Radio's Kyp Malone's looped wailswere captivating ("Desperate Bitch") and Sondre Lerche's jazzymeandering was typically charming ("Wet Ground," "Minor Detail"), butthey couldn't hold a candle to the evening's standouts: Deschanel'sclassic vocal chops and Bird and the Bee singer Inara George's specialguest, legendary songwriter Van Dyke Parks. The two duetted on Parks'song "Vine Street" (actually written by Randy Newman), and the audiencewas no longer in a living room. Finally, somehow, they'd actually beentransported to the heart of Hollywood.

We asked: Who was your favorite performer from tonight's show?

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